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Why Barbarian Is Giving Horror Fans Malignant Flashbacks

Fear is one of the most common human emotions, shared across all people and cultures. Although horror can be somewhat subjective, most people will reflexively react to jump scares and moments of extreme violence and gore. The latest horror movie to stir up a frenzy among fans is "Barbarian," a brutal horror film that manages to keep viewers off-balance by creating a story that quickly escalates, and not in the ways one might expect. One thing is for certain though, and that is one should be somewhat apprehensive about renting houses on apps.

As noted by Rotten Tomatoes, "Barbarian" has been well received by critics, with the movie currently holding around a 92% critical score at the time of this writing. "Barbarian" is also invoking a strong response from horror fans, with many of them comparing it favorably to the 2021 horror film "Malignant." "Malignant" predominately follows Madison Mitchell (Annabelle Wallis) and her mysterious origins. Unfortunately, her story is marked by tragedy, and "Malignant" is a roller coaster of a movie that sees all sorts of twists and turns. So why are fans comparing these two movies?

Fans are comparing Barbarian to Malignant because of the tonal shifts

On the ever-popular online forum Reddit, many users levied tremendous praise on "Barbarian" in the horror subreddit, but also mentioned "Malignant" in the same breath. Prior to the film being released, a post from u/camjryan said that they had seen an early screening of "Barbarian" and that is this year's "Malignant." This caused u/AllYouNeed2Dough to ask exactly what the original poster meant, and they replied, "Not so much plot, more so that there's a turn partially thru the movie that flips the tone and what you think the movie is going to be." u/General_Gravy added, "i just saw this movie tonight, and the malignant comparison is SPOT ON. The movie is actually so complex with the horror but if you're trying to sell someone the movie without explaining it, this is it!!"

In a separate Reddit thread, u/BrosephBrostar1 commented that the tonal shifts in "Barbarian" gave them whiplash, but that was a good thing and entirely unexpected. u/Godzookyguy responded and said that they enjoyed the movie, and appreciated how the movie completely subverts one's expectations. In their review of the film, Polygon stated, "Twisty stories are hard to calibrate for; knowing a film has one or more hard left turns coming can goose expectations, which are often rooted more in what any given viewer wants, not in the storytellers' ultimate goals."

It seems then the reason that people have compared "Barbarian" to "Malignant" is not in their plots, but because of how both movies have a tendency to rapidly shift gears to catch viewers completely unaware and flat-footed. Either way, "Barbarian" is certainly proving to be a hit for its plot choices and direction, and the comparisons to the similar choices of direction in "Malignant" ring true.